Thursday, August 19, 2010

Heading West

One of my most favorite things to do is travel and I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel quite a bit this year. In April I went on a cruise with my girlfriends to the Bahamas and had more fun than should be legal,  last month I ventured to the Florida Keys. Though each vacation was a blast, I'm sad to say that neither of them was spent with Paul.

Well, that's all about to change! I am so excited to share that, my handsome husband of mine and I will be heading West next week to spend eight days traveling the California Coast. I have an exciting trip planned for the two of us as we hit up Sonoma, San Francisco, Monterey and Carmel.

  I am so excited, I can hardly breath.

Because I'm obsessive compulsive a planner, I have made a spreadsheet of what I'd like to do each day of our trip. I've been researching for months and months and have narrowed down the major details of our trip and scored great deals in some wonderful hotels and B&B's. With only 2-3 days in each place, I don't want to waste my time trying to figure things out. Though nothing is written in stone, I feel more comfortable vacationing with an agenda in mind.

The thing about me and traveling, which drives the hubs a bit nuts, is that I always say I don't want to travel 'like a tourist.' When I go somewhere, I want to experience it. I want to do what the locals do, eat where they eat, and really get the idea of what the place is all about. I want to find those 'hidden gems' that a city has to offer. Call me a snob, but under no circumstance will you ever find me in a chain restaurant, Planet Hollywood, Hardrock Cafe, or TGI Fridays when I am vacationing. The only exception to this rule is The Rainforest Cafe- who doesn't love a thunderstorm every 15 minutes and a talking Willow Tree? This girl sure does!

Vegas 2008 Rainforest Cafe

Needless to say, I cannot wait to head West for a week full of food, wine, scenery, and fun with a guy I'm pretty fond of. I will be sure to have lots of pics and posts to share of our adventure!
I know that am a little, ok a lot, nuts when it comes to planning a trip so I'm curious about others. What is your vacation style? Do you prefer to plan ahead or play it by ear? Go the tourist route or take the road less traveled? Anyone have any tips on California- I want to hear it all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Allow me to introduce to you...

I can't believe I've blogged a whole 14 times without a post devoted to my two favorite creatures in the entire world. Allow me to introduce you to Mattingly 'the Heartbreak Kid' and his little sister, Macie 'the Maniac.' These two love bugs are the sole reason I am undeniably and unapologetically a 100% crazy dog lady.

Mattingly and Macie

Look at them! No really, look. Aren't they two of the dog gone cutest things you've ever laid eyes on? Who doesn't love a smushed face dog? Interestingly enough, up until we got Mattingly (two weeks to the day after Paul and I were married), I owned cats my whole life. I was not a dog person. Well, the times were a changin' and so did I.  I am forever a dog lover.

 Mattingly is a 3 year old Boston Terrier who was hands down, the cutest puppy I've ever seen.

He's as smart as dogs come and can learn a command in just a few minutes. But, even more than smart, Mattingly is as stubborn as a mule. If he doesn't want to do something, well, then it ain't happening. The exception to this is rule is when food is involved, then he's at your beck and call. Pretty much, Mattingly is the manifestation of me in dog form.

 Then, there's Macie, who we met when she was two weeks old. She sold herself to us when she crawled up  the back of my neck and fell asleep. This was the beginning of velcro dog, as she has not left my side since.

Paul wanted a big dog, and narrowed it down to a boxer. Little did we know, our "big dog" would only grow to 43lbs, soaking wet. Tiny for her breed. What Macie is lacking in size, she makes up with love. Admittedly, she's not the brightest, but I've never met a dog with more love to give than my Macie. If you choose not to love her, well, she won't have it. There is no choice with Macie as she does not believe in personal space. You will love her and cuddle with her, like it or not.

So here they are; the two dog loves of my life. Woman's best friends. They're two rambuctious, hyper, jumping all over the place monsters, but they're mine and I love them to pieces.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Color me happy

Tonight I attended our monthly officer's wives club meeting. We held it at the local pottery place and had a great time eating, drinking wine, and creating some beautiful works of art. Enjoy some pictures from the evening:

         Arts and crafts, grownup style!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I'd like to share a little life lesson with you all today: 

Never, ever, take a cell phone into the bathroom 
Allow me to explain myself.

Something about me that you probably don't know is that I carry my cell phone with me everyday, all day, no matter where I go. This is not because I'm anxiously awaiting a phone call or text, it's simply because I want to know what time it is. I just haven't gotten around to buying a watch. I don't need it, I have a cell phone :)

About two years ago I was the proud new owner of an LG Envy cell phone. I was the hip girl on the block that had a key board built into her phone to text at super lightning speed. In usual fashion, I carried my cell phone with me everywhere, bathroom included. I had owned my phone 6 days before that darn cell phone slipped out of my back pocket and fell into the  toilet just as I was about to...well, assume the hover position. 


Fast forward two years to tonight. I'm now the super cool owner of a Motorola Droid. I've had a crazy busy and hectic day. The specifics aren't important to this story, except for the fact that I was winding down the day by mowing my front and back yards (with my push mower, of course).  I was hot, sweaty and ready to take a shower so I could put on my PJ's, eat dinner and watch TV. Well, the phone gods had other plans for me.

Wouldn't you know that as I walked into the bathroom, my darn "smart phone" hopped out of my hand  and dove straight into the toilet. 


Though I rescued my not so smart phone faster than you can say splash, it was to no avail. My beautiful Droid gave one last flicker before the water seeped through it's sleek flat screen. Droid had met the same watery demise as the Envy did just two short years before.

So yes, I have dropped not one, but two phones into the toilet. TWO! I don't know what this says about me, but I will tell you, insurance plans are a necessity in our house.

In case you're wondering, I raced to Verizon 15 minutes before closing, gave the lonely military wife sob story and received a new phone. Which, by luck, happens to be the upgraded Droid 2 so it's not all bad.

                                              I wonder how I'll end up breaking this one.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A love story

For the last few months I've been painstakingly looking for curtains to put into our dining room. Not just any curtains, ones that make my heart flutter. All too often, I buy things that are just "eh" and use them for the time being until I find something that knocks my socks off. This is a silly approach that I am working on changing.

After visiting every store I could think of online and in person, I had no success in finding ready-made curtains. I moved on to fabric stores and there, I fell in love and I fell hard.

Her name was Shalini by Annie Selke and she was gorgeous. Everything I had been looking for my whole life the last 3 months. I was ready to make my purchase when I found that this amazingly beautiful cotton blend was $27.99 a yard. I needed 18 yards. That equals...a lot. More than I should spend on curtains. Nevertheless, I brought a sample home and looked lovingly at it for the next few days hoping that this love would pass. It didn't.

Like many love stories, mine has a tragic ending. Shalini and I had to go our separate ways. I followed my head instead of  my heart and reluctantly returned her to the store where she rightly belonged.

But, my story doesn't end there because we all know that real love stories always end with a happily ever after. Though my heart was broken and Shalini was still on my mind, I knew that there could be another fabric for me, and I was out to find it. And find it I did today at World Market in the form of a table cloth named Sarika.

Though Shalini was my first love, Sarika was a better match for me. Not only was she aesthetically pleasing, she was hemmed on all four sides, she was in stock so I could take her home with me, and she was cheap.

Just how I like 'em.

At $15 a table cloth (marked down from $35) I calculated that this was approximately $5 a yard. Less than 20% of the cost of Shalini and far simpler to work with. I like simple. All Sarika needed to become a curtain panel was a  pocket made to fit over the curtain rod. Nothing a quick date with my iron and Stitch Witchery couldn't handle.

Once I got Sarika home and ironed, installing the curtain panels was a cinch. I absolutely LOVE the look of my new curtains. The dining room is starting to take form. Not bad, eh?

And though I have my happily ever after with my curtains, our affair is not without flaw:

When creating a pocket, make sure to use the correct side of the curtain. Oops! It's ok- this is an easy fix and every relationship needs work, right?

Friday, August 13, 2010

You like tomato...

In early May, I decided to surprise Paul by redoing our yard while he was gone for training. I worked for hours and hours to clear, weed, landscape and mulch the yard. It looked fantastic for my first time doing landscaping, let alone the fact that I did it all by myself. 

With my new found confidence in my green thumb abilities, I decided to set my sights higher; I would grow a vegetable garden. Visions of homemade sauces, salads, and herbs clouded my mind. I was already deciding where I would clear land to plant my "crops" when reality tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Let’s start small." Topsy, Turvy it was! It doesn't get much smaller or easier, right?

My vegetable garden

On many of mine and Paul's trips to Home Depot, I had picked up the Topsy Turvy, contemplated purchasing it, and put it back down. I'm such a sucker for these "as seen on TV" items but now that I was a "serious" gardener, it was time to commit. I was finally ready for the 30 plus pounds of tomatoes that the Topsy Turvy promised me. I bought my Topsy Turvy, added my plant, soil and fertilizer and read the growing manual three times, yep, three. Serious gardeners do research, of course.

That was two months ago, and, let me tell you, I've watered this thing every day, numerous times because you can't water tomato plants too much. Topsy Turvy says so. Want to see the fruits of my labor? Here it is, in all its glory:

That's it, isn't she beautiful? 

Two months, lots of TLC, and all I get is one partly rotted stinking tomato? Scratch that, I actually had two tomatoes until three days ago when I accidentally picked the other one. I wanted to see if it was turning red.  It wasn’t.

I threw that stupid, green tomato across the yard. I also cried. Yep, really.

The good news is, I still have one little guy growing. I'm really pulling for him. Send good growing vibes his way if you can. Thanks.

I'm not quite sure where I went wrong. I truly did everything that I thought I was supposed to do. Maybe I should've sung to it? Nevertheless, I will grow a vegetable garden next year and I will be successful. That's a promise.

Do you think the Topsy Turvy was the wrong way to begin my vegetable garden? Am I the only one who is a sucker for As Seen on TV products? What novelty products have you bought? Did it live up to the hype? Spill- no product is too embarrassing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beginning of an addiction

My list of improvements to complete around the house is enormous, overwhelming, and forever growing. The worst part of it all, I'm jumping from room to room and cannot focus on one room at a time as I know I should. I need meds. Big time.

Despite my self diagnosed ADD, I'm excited to share that I completed a huge project in the man room this week and I am more than proud of it; I added faux wainscoting to the lower half of my plain, molding free walls to add some interest to the otherwise blah room. Not only did it add nautical flair (my favorite), but it was so stinkin' cheap ($31) and I got to use a big boy girl saw. That's right, I used a power saw. By myself. And I rocked it to achieve this:
Check out that beautiful molding. I am in love <3

Here's how I did it! It's amazingly simple and took me about 4 hours from start to finish, including painting.

Supplies needed: wood strips (I used 8ft foam lattice boards), finishing nails, paint, hammer, saw, tape measure

Let's get started! First things first, I had to decide how far apart I wanted to separate each piece of molding. I did this by simply leaning my molding against the wall until I liked the way it looked. Very technical.

In order to keep my molding equidistant around the room, I used a very handy tool that I have dubbed my "distance stick" (aka leftover shoe molding from the kitchen) so I would not have to measure in between each board, and could just hold up my tool and lay the next board down.

Note: If you can resist singing Lady Gaga's Love Game for the rest of the project you've got me beat. "Let's have some fun, this beat is sick, I wanna take a ride on your distance stick..." Come on, you know you want to.

After I had my distance between each board decided, it was time to measure the height of the molding. I had to measure for three different heights to accommodate my room; baseboard to window molding, baseboard to chair rail, and baseboard heaters to chair rail.

Once I measured and calculated how many pieces of each size I would need, I cut one stencil for each of the sizes and marked how many of each I needed on the stencil.

Next, it was time to cut my boards to size (so fun!) and to begin hammering. I started at the end of one wall and worked my way around the room using my distance stick. So easy.

Once the last board was up, I painted away! I am so in love with the result.

It's amazing how much molding can dress up a room. I'm already planning some future molding projects. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

How a Braided Beauty Saved My Sunday

I had big plans for today. I woke up this morning feeling on top of the world. I slept in with no alarm clock, and was super excited to tackle my laundry list of projects that have been racking my brain the last week while I was visiting my family in New Jersey.

Today was supposed to go a little like this:
Home Depot in the am, followed by a little painting, measuring,  hammering, and using power saw. After that project, I would move on to revamping furniture, sewing, and a little more painting. Sounds productive right? I thought so too.

Here's how today actually went:
Quick trip to look at an apartment with a friend, Facebook, TLC, Skyping with the hubs. Not quite as productive as I had hoped, but I think the last few weeks of hosting family and traveling to see family caught up with me.

For the record, I managed to pull myself off the couch and mow the lawn. With a manual push mower. Yes, I am selling tickets to my gun show.

So, today didn't quite go as planned but to be perfectly honest, I fell into a "blah" mood and could not pull myself out. I needed a little pick me up, a sweet treat to welcome what should be a productive week ahead of me.

Bring on the french toast!

Because I didn't get creative and productive with the house today, I brought some creativity into the kitchen. I had a craving for french toast, and with no one around here to object,  breakfast for dinner it was!

I looked around on my favorite for a french toast recipe, but soon decided I would like to let my own culinary juices flow.

When I have a craving for rich food, I'm going to do it right. The whole grain bread in the pantry was not going to cut it. I needed to go back to my roots for the perfect bread. Challah. Forget french bread, and poo on Texas Toast. If you want a good, thick bread, challah is the way to go, trust me.

Now, imagine my delight when I went to the grocery store and got the last loaf of challah bread. Imagine me even more delighted when I found that my gorgeous loaf of goodness was $3 off as it was leftover from the weekend. Holla! Sorry, I could not get throught this post without at least one. That felt good.

So how did I turn my braided beauty into a delectable plate of egg soaked splendor? Here's the lowdown:

Mix 2 eggs, a 1/2 tsp of vanilla, cinnamon and sugar (go crazy), a little milk and a quick squeeze of honey into a bowl big enough to dip the bread. Whisk, or fork, it up!

Soak the bread until it's loaded with egg in every pore, throw it on the griddle and lightly brown one side.

Flip it, and spread a light (or heavy- it's up to you) layer of cream cheese on top.

Allow the other side to cook and voila! Deliciousness.

One quick note: I don't know about you, but I full-heartedly believe comfort food must contain one of two things to be certified comforting: cheese or chocolate. To oblige this strong belief, I grated some chocolate shavings on top. It had to be done.


                                       And this, my friends, is how my blah Sunday ended sweetly.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Calling All Suggestions

Long time, no post! My trip home to Jersey has taken a "left turn" and landed my dad in the hospital. He should be ok, but I just wanted to explain the reason for my slacking.

Anywho, I will soon be getting a blog makeover so I can grab the blogging world by the...mouse (I'm so funny). I am thinking of revamping the name as well. Here are my ideas...some are a little "creative", but I figured I'd toss 'em out and see what sticks. Without further ado, here are my best attempts at a clever blog title:

Simple Pleasures

The Life of a Land Based Mermaid

The Makings of a {wannabe} Domestic Goddess

Our Little Fixer Upper and Other Adventures

Just a Little Lovin’

Well, what do you think? Any new thoughts or ways to improve upon my ideas? Help!!!


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